SALT LAKE CITY — Utah quarterback Travis Wilson has approached his return like a “second opportunity.” His future was in doubt after an intracranial artery injury was detected following a concussion against Arizona State last November. He missed the final three games of 2013 and didn’t receive full medical clearance to resume playing until June 24.
“Once I got that final word that I was cleared my whole mindset changed,” Wilson said. “It was all about getting back into football and getting back into shape and just being blessed that I could play football again.”
Wilson entered camp No. 1 on the depth chart, with Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson occupying the No. 2 spot.
“Interesting battle. Travis is looking really good. Kendal is making some plays,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said after Tuesday’s practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium. “The other guys that are getting their reps are making the most of them — Brandon Cox, Conner Manning, (Adam) Schulz.”
Right now, though, Whittingham noted that it’s Wilson and Thompson battling it out, with Wilson still holding the top spot.
SECOND DAY: Whittingham liked the tempo Tuesday.
“It’s still a little bit off of where it ultimately needs to get, but it’s far better than it was at any point in spring ball,” said Whittingham, who added that he’s pleased with the execution, thus far. “We’re making very few mistakes, very few dropped balls. There’s always room for improvement — but so far, two days in, (it’s) very good.”
BOLSTERED INTERIOR: Utah’s health and depth at defensive tackle is good according to Whittingham. He noted that true freshman Lowell Lotulelei has “added a ton to that position.” Other positives include the return of sophomore Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, junior Seni Fauonuku and sophomore Sam Tevi.
“There’s four or five guys that we’ve got back healthy now, or that are new to the program, that have really bolstered that position,” Whittingham said. “That should be, as always, a position of strength for us. It’s been a strong suit for us for eight or 10 years now.”
EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham said the Utes have eight or nine offensive linemen who are ready to play and help out this season. He also said there are another three or four coming up through the system with a lot of potential. ... The team will vote on what version of the school fight song to use this season at a meeting Wednesday or Thursday night. Whittingham’s guess after talking with some of the guys is that they’ll stick with the original words and not the recently revamped edition. ... Senior receiver Kaelin Clay is the early front-runner to return kickoffs and punts.